Freud, Darwin, Marx: How Are They Located in Current Cultural Artifacts?

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  • Topic: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Capitalism, Class struggle
  • Pages : 6 (2134 words )
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  • Published : August 25, 2008
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Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx were “great” Western thinkers. They each had different biological, historical, and psychological perspectives. Their ideas can still be applied to current issues and cultural artifacts. As time progresses their ideas are still the foundation of many other theories. Each would analyze two cultural artifacts of Western Civilization: Grand Illusion (1937) by Jean Renoir, and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1999) by Mike Myers differently. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery has several discrete messages and references. Austin Power’s has to adapt to the changes in society that occurred since he was frozen in 1967 to when he was unfrozen in 1997. Austin has to overcome the new vies of the nineties society. This includes less sexual liberation, a more conservative view, and in general the historical events that occurred while he was frozen. As Miss Kensington says, “I sometimes forget that you haven’t been around for the last thirty years…” Several scenes in the movie are up to interpretation by Freud, Darwin, and Marx.

Freud’s analysis of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery would focus on the psychological aspects in the movie. Near the end of the movie Dr. Evil says, “Isn't it ironic, Mr. Powers, that the very things you stand for; swinging, free love, parties, distrust of authority- are all now, in the Nineties, considered to be...evil?” Austin responds by saying, “No, man, what we swingers were rebelling against were uptight squares like you, whose bag was money and world domination. We were innocent, man. If we'd known the consequences of our sexual liberation, we would have done things differently, but the spirit would have remained the same. It's freedom, man.” Freud is quoted as saying, “The urge of freedom, is therefore, directed against particular forms and demands of civilization or against civilization altogether….No doubt he will always defend his claim to individual liberty against the will of the group.” (Freud, 43). When compared Freud would think is why in the 1960’s people were rebelling against society. Dr. Evil goes on to say, “Your freedom has caused more pain and suffering in the world than any plan I ever dreamed of. Face it, freedom failed!” Austin again responds, “That's why right now is a very groovy time, man. We still have freedom, but we also have responsibility.” Freud would see this as a part of mankind’s need to find a middle ground between an individual’s claims and the group’s claims. As Freud says, “One problem that touches the fate of humanity is whether such an accommodation can be reached by means of some particular form of civilization or whether this conflict is irreconcilable.” (Freud, 43). Either the individual will form an agreement with society or there will always be conflict. When Austin refers to “freedom with responsibility” he is talking about that middle ground that has been formed by civilization.

Freud would also find the scene in the movie where Austin is unpacking is suit case and pulls out his gun and compares it to Miss Kensington’s gun which results in Austin having “gun envy.” Freud says, “Normally, there is nothing of which we are more certain than the feeling of our self, of our own ego.” (Freud, 12). When Austin gets envious of how large Miss Kensington’s gun is he is letting his ego get in the way of the task at hand.

Freud also says, “…the ego, indeed, is the libido’s original home, and remains to some extent its headquarters.” (Freud, 65). This relevant when Miss Kensington tells Austin, “Give your libido a rest.” She is tired of Austin trying to make his ego even bigger because Austin thinks he can have any women he wants. In many ways his ego is conflicting with his sexual drive.

Darwin would analyze this film with more of a biological perspective. Dr. Evil says, “But Scott, who's going to take over the world when I die?” Darwin would say that...
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